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'Missile woman' to handle Agni-V project

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Dr Tessey Thomas, 'missile woman' of India

NEW DELHI (BNS): Dr Tessy Thomas has been appointed the project director (mission) of India's most ambitious missile, Agni-V, with a strike range of 5,000-km, which is slated to be tested for the first time next year, according to a media report.

She is known as India's 'missile woman', one of the India's elite scientists behind the Agni III, India's longest-range nuclear capable missile that can hit targets up to 3,000 km.

The test-firing of Agni-V will propel India towards having potent ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities, largely the preserve of the Big-5 countries till now.

A BTech from Thrissur Engineering College, Calicut and MTech from Pune, Dr Thomas is an expert on all solid system propellant and was honoured on May 12 by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh along with the entire team of ‘Agni-III’.

"She is one of the key members of the entire Agni programme, the designer for the missile guidance systems, among other things, she is one of the most dedicated scientists in our team. She finds solutions to problems,'' The Times Of India quoted Avinash Chander, Agni programme director as saying.

Based at the Advanced Systems Laboratory in Hyderabad, Thomas has been associated with the Agni programme for around two decades now. Her fascination for `rockets' began with the Apollo moon missions when she was in school at Alappuzha in Kerala.

The work on the solid-fuelled Agni-V basically revolves around incorporating a third composite stage in the two-stage Agni-III, along with some advanced technologies like ring laser gyroscope and accelerator for navigation and guidance.

According to the newspaper, the endeavour is to ensure that Agni-V, for which the government has sanctioned around Rs 2,500 crore, is also a canister-launch missile system to ensure it has the requisite operational flexibility to be fired from any part of the country.

It will be slightly short of true ICBMs, which have ranges in excess of 5,500 km, but enough to take care of existing `threat perceptions'.

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